Do you guys ever have those moments when one of your kids does something completely awesome and you think to yourself, "You know, I'm doing a pretty darned good job here!" I had one of those a couple of weeks ago and it's a good thing that I didn't break my arm reaching around to pat myself on the back because that moment was short-lived. My 11-year-old daughter came in from shoveling a (pretty narrow) strip of snow down the driveway. Not wanting to discourage her effort, The Hubs gave her five bucks. She immediately came in and asked if she could put the money in our giving bank. I was dumbfounded. And impressed. Very impressed. I told her how wonderful that was. I offered profuse praise. I told every family member about her amazing act of generosity. I thought, "You know, I'm doing a pretty darned good job here!"
So you can imagine how stunned I was to discover a couple of hours later that she had taken the money back out of the bank. Oh well. I guess you win some and you lose some. I tortured myself trying to figure out if I should address this with her. And if I were to say something to her, what would I say? In the end, I decided to keep my mouth shut. I decided to let some of the grace that has been poured out onto me spill over onto her a bit. After all, I do not give as generously as I could at every opportunity.
I've been thinking about grace in parenting ever since. It's a fine line, isn't it? As parents we have a responsibility to direct and to correct our kids. But we also have a responsibility to connect with our kids, and constantly harping on every little offense interferes with that connection. I heard someone say once that "Rules without relationship equals rebellion." I have found that to be true. Sometimes issues come up with our kids that we simply must deal with, but some offenses are relatively small and we can just let them go. Just. Let. Them. Go.
I am working hard on this, but I find it very challenging. Harping seems to be my natural response :) So, once again, I find that I need to be very intentional in managing myself and my reactions. I must think before I speak. And sometimes I just have to shut my mouth. Ugh!
Help me out here. I want to know how you handle this in your life. How do you dole out grace with your kids? How do you decide when to correct and when to be quiet?